From DNA- to NA-centrism and the conditions for gene-centrism revisited

Biology and Philosophy 29 (1):55-69 (2014)
Abstract
First the ‘Weismann barrier’ and later on Francis Crick’s ‘central dogma’ of molecular biology nourished the gene-centric paradigm of life, i.e., the conception of the gene/genome as a ‘central source’ from which hereditary specificity unidirectionally flows or radiates into cellular biochemistry and development. Today, due to advances in molecular genetics and epigenetics, such as the discovery of complex post-genomic and epigenetic processes in which genes are causally integrated, many theorists argue that a gene-centric conception of the organism has become problematic. Here, we first explore the causal implications of the following two central dogma-related issues: (1) widespread reverse transcription—arguing for an extension from ‘DNA-genome’ to RNA-encompassing ‘NA-genome’ and, thus, from traditional DNA-centrism to a broader ‘NA-centrism’; and (2) the absence of a mechanism of reverse translation—arguing for the ‘structural primacy’ of NA-sequence over protein in cellular biochemistry. Secondly, we explore whether this latter conclusion can be extended to a ‘functional primacy’ of NA-sequence over protein in cellular biochemistry, which would imply a limited kind of ‘gene/NA-centrism’ confined to the subcellular level of NA/protein-based biochemistry. Finally, we explore the conditions—and their (non)fulfilment—for a more generalised form of gene-centrism extendable to higher levels of biological organisation. We conclude that the higher we go in the biological hierarchy, the more dubious gene-centric claims become
Keywords The Weismann barrier  The central dogma  Reverse transcription  The absence of reverse translation  From DNA- to NA-centrism  The conditions for gene-centrism  Gene-de-centrism
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-013-9393-z
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The Century of the Gene.Evelyn Fox Keller - 2001 - Journal of the History of Biology 34 (3):613-615.

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